At The Resilient Activist we know from our own experience the profound healing and uplift that comes from spending time outdoors.
And lookee here! There’s science to back it up!
This post gives you a smattering of some of the most interesting and promising studies to make the case that you’ll feel better and have a more resilient life if you schedule regular times to travel on that meandering path to into the natural world.
So, in no particular order, we hope you enjoy these articles!
From 1984, this is one of the earliest studies on the benefits of nature and recovery from surgery.
View through a window may influence recovery from surgery (Roger S Ulrich). “Records on recovery after cholecystectomy of patients in a suburban Pennsylvania hospital between 1972 and 1981 were examined to determine whether assignment to a room with a window view of a natural setting might have restorative influences. Twenty-three surgical patients assigned to rooms with windows looking out on a natural scene had shorter postoperative hospital stays, received fewer negative evaluative comments in nurses’ notes, and took fewer potent analgesics than 23 matched patients in similar rooms with windows facing a brick building wall.”
Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings (U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health) “Adults and children are spending more time interacting with media and technology and less time participating in activities in nature. This life-style change clearly has ramifications for our physical well-being, but what impact does this change have on cognition?”
This study demonstrates that four days of immersion in nature, and the corresponding disconnection from multi-media and technology, increases performance on a creativity, problem-solving task by a full 50% in a group of naive hikers.
Influence of Forest Therapy on Cardiovascular Relaxation in Young Adults (Hindawy Publishing Company) “With an increasing interest in the health benefits of forest-oriented stimulations, considerable attention has been paid to forest therapy in many developed countries. The natural environment such as that of a forest is often considered to be an important factor in health promotion models.”
“Within-group comparisons were used to examine the cardiovascular responses to walking in forest and urban environments. Forty-eight young adult males participated in the two-day field research. Changes in heart rate variability, heart rate, and blood pressure were measured to understand cardiovascular reactivity.”
Results: “Heart rate during forest walking was significantly lower than that in the control. Questionnaire results showed that negative mood states and anxiety levels decreased significantly by forest walking compared with urban walking. ”
Why Gardening Makes You Happy and Cures Depression (Robyn Francis, Permaculture College Australia, Djangung Gardens) “While mental health experts warn about depression as a global epidemic, other researchers are discovering ways we trigger our natural production of happy chemicals that keep depression at bay, with surprising results. All you need to do is get your fingers dirty and harvest your own food,”
“…contact with soil and a specific soil bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, triggers the release of serotonin in our brain according to research. Serotonin is a happy chemical, a natural anti-depressant and strengthens the immune system. Lack of serotonin in the brain causes depression. ”
How Nature Can Make You Kinder, Happier, and More Creative (Jill Suttie, Greater Good Science Center) “Scientists are beginning to find evidence that being in nature has a profound impact on our brains and our behavior, helping us to reduce anxiety, brooding, and stress, and increase our attention capacity, creativity, and our ability to connect with other people…With all of these benefits to being out in nature, it’s probably no surprise that something about nature makes us feel more alive and vital. Being outdoors gives us energy, makes us happier, helps us to relieve the everyday stresses of our overscheduled lives, opens the door to creativity, and helps us to be kind to others.”